Saturday 30 July 2016

Warsaw Village Band "Sun Celebration"

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the absorption of the countries of Eastern Europe into the Western Capitalist fold, the various anarcho-punk members of the Warsaw Village Band came together with a manifesto to explore Poland's cultural traditions and make them relevant again: To "create a new cultural proposition for the youth in an alternative way to contemporary show-biz".

With that in mind they have gone from their first CD "People's Spring" of 18 years ago to this, their seventh album "Sun Celebration" and along the way they have successfully fused their traditional sounds (dulcimer, fiddles, hurdy-gurdy, frame drum and abrasive choral female vocals) with modern-day electronica, instrumentation and production values. One of their releases along the way was even a reggae / dub remix album ("Uprooting") of many of the WVB classic tracks thus far, which worked surprisingly well.

On the last CD ("Nord") the band paid tribute to the traditions of the frozen tundra to their North. This time they have presented us with a package that refers to certain universal dualities, with the two discs being labelled "Sun" and "Moon".  "Sun Celebration" paints a picture of a musical journey around the Earth, following the Sun and breaking down cultural, religious and ethnic boundaries as we go.

For this excursion, WVB have enlisted the support of some truly luminous talents. Featuring on the stunning openers "Fly My Voice" and "Midsummer Rain Song", as well as "Viburnum Orchard" later in the piece, is avant-garde Galician musician Mercedes Peon. With her arresting voice, breath, electronics, Galician bagpipes and percussion, this is a match made in heaven. Then there is Kayhan Kalhor, the Kemanche genius from Iran, on "Bride's Wreath" and "Perkun's Fire", the latter also featuring the Indian Saranghi legend Ustad Liaquat Ali Khan, who lends his soaring vocals to "She's Been at Kupala" and more Saranghi to two Lullabies on the Moon CD.

Add in some scratches and electronics from DJ Feel-X ("legendary wizard of the gramophone"), some tabla and harmonium from the Dhoad Gyspsies of Rajasthan and some of the WVB's trademark punk-jazz double bass, trumpet and flugelhorn, as well as some accomplished production over a three year period from Studio AS One in Warsaw, and this extraordinary package is complete. It's been a few years between drinks, but well worth the wait. Let's just hope that their travels following the Sun - and promoting this fine album - bring them to Australia in the not-too-distant future!